If you are/were a near-and-dear friend of mine, you might remember my ill-fated record label AcidVictim Records. I ran this record label with wavering levels of enthusiasm from 2004-2008.
The funny thing is that AcidVictim Records started off as a complete joke. It was only slightly legitimized by truly obscure means, and wound up taking on a life of its own. It was a life that lasted nearly 4 years, and was quite enjoyable at first but soon became an incredible nuisance and waste of my time. When I deleted everything from the MySpace website and closed the e-mail address, it was a huge relief and I’ve never regretted closing up shop.
I'd wanted to do something like a record label since I was a teenager. So why did it all go so bad? There were several reasons, and I feel enough time has passed that I can talk about it without cringing.
2004 was the year of FUCKPOT. I had recently moved to Florida and was very bored. I started messing around with a DJ/beats program and some movie samples, and thus the long-running joke of “Fuckpot” was made into reality. I made 2 Fuckpot albums by my lonesome, and it was only as a joke at first for my old college buddies (perhaps a proper blog about Fuckpot is in order?) to have a laugh at.
However, my boredom never dissipated and I thought it would be funny to “legitimize” Fuckpot by having them sign to a record label. So I came up with AcidVictim Records. I made a few copies of the Fuckpot albums with the AcidVictim logo on them, and even convinced my lady to make up a website for it (she’d already made me a Fuckpot website, and even a t-shirt. Amazing woman!). It was all in good fun. I was amusing myself, which has always been the most important thing.
And then the band Sphere Lazza got in touch with me.
Sphere Lazza was an electro/industrial band that was once signed to Cleopatra Records. They lived in Ocala, FL, which was about an hour away from where I lived at the time. Somehow they found me on the Internet and were really excited about releasing an album with me. It was weird. They already had an EP recorded and were excited to “get back in the scene with a small independent label.” I really didn’t know what to think of it. But hey, I was bored, remember? So I figured what the hell and I released their single/EP, “Ultimate Abyss.”
The nicest way I can put this is that I was not a fan of the CD. However, Sphere Lazza was really excited about it and I had nothing else better to do so I committed to releasing their album for them. I had 200 copies of it made, and did what any good fake record label owner would do and sent it out to as many magazines, fanzines, internet radio stations and independent record labels that I could find.
The album went NOWHERE. I felt bad, but at the same time I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing anyway so it was no big loss when I sent the band the remaining copies of the CD I had and wished them ‘good luck.’ They asked me a couple of years later if I'd be interested in releasing another single of theirs, but I turned them down. I haven't heard anything from them since. They probably broke up again.
Regardless, I had my first taste of "running a record label" and I wanted to do it again. So I turned to my friends in the underground metal community.
At the time, I had correspondence with a "metal dude" that I knew from various metal message boards in the early 2000’s, and we thought it would be funny to release a split-CD of Fuckpot and his death metal band Shroud of Despondency. This CD actually came out before the Sphere Lazza one did, even though it was conceptualized after the Sphere Lazza debacle was a done deal.
I never sold any copies of this, but it went out to magazines and friends and such. It got reviewed in a bunch of underground metal fanzines (which are now all defunct, of course). The cover-art is something that my mother had done in the early 1990’s, and I always wanted to use it for something so I used it here. I went on to release another album from my SoD friend, but this time he had a new “technical death metal” band called Bury The Pariah.
This was probably one of my favorite albums I released, next to the Harvyst EP (more on that soon). It had a lot of humor, and it was metal as hell. I loved it. Again, I never actually sold any copies but it went out all over the place with the Harvyst EP (I released them at the same time) and both albums got good reviews.
Harvyst was an industrial/metal band from Michigan fronted by an old friend of mine, and the "Winter" EP I released for them is still a personal favorite. I don’t know what it was, but my buddy nailed it on exactly what it was I wanted to hear from industrial/metal music. I think I may have sold a few copies of this, but nothing substantial. Mainly, I was helping out my friend in getting his badass demo out there.
At this point, I had figured out what I wanted to do with AcidVictim Records. I wanted it to be more of a public relations service than a record label. Since most of the bands I worked with kicked in money to help me release the albums, it was up to me to promote them. That’s why most of the press-runs for these albums went out as promotional copies rather than being sold.
It was an idea that gained a lot of attention when I made a MySpace page for the record label. I started getting requests from all over the place to release ‘Random Band A”’s demo. For a minute there, I thought I had come up with a pretty nifty idea, and I was happy to see bands take an interest in it.
With unbridled enthusiasm, I “signed” a disgusting punk/black metal band called Deadhole. They were from Maine. The lead singer had horn implants, a split tongue, piercings all over, who knows how many tattoos and god knows what else. Turns out the singer had been in prison for drugs and violence before. Less than a year after I released their demo, “Curse of the Ghoul,” the singer (who went by the name of Trash, how fitting) wound up back in prison for kidnapping, drug possession and parole violation.
I picked a real winner there. So yeah, that was the end of Deadhole.
While I was promoting the Deadhole demo, I was still making a lot of contacts with unsigned metal bands from around the globe. I had several of them on deck to release an album with “as soon as it was recorded.” 95% of those albums were never released, because they were never recorded. I was beginning to learn why so many bands never get their shit together. (i.e. laziness, lack of time/money)
It was around this point that I decided to release a compilation album, since I had so many bands getting in touch with me. This proved to be the hardest release that I worked on. It was not only one of the most successful albums I released, but it was also the album that put the writing on the wall for the label.
This thing was a fucking pain in the ass to put together. I was dealing with a ridiculous amount of bands, to the point where I was originally going to do this as a double-album. However, the end result was an extremely mixed bag of various metal bands ranging in quality. Regardless, I was proud of a lot of the work that went into this album. My friend P. Emerson Williams helped me out tremendously with the artwork design and layout, and contributed a Choronzon track, which was one of the highlights on the album.
In my opinion, the compilation had a handful of good songs alongside a handful of mediocre-to-bad ones. It was the culmination of an entire year’s worth of work. The album was reviewed all over the place, and was even featured in Metal Maniacs (the ‘premiere’ underground metal magazine. At least, it was. I have no idea about it now). I don’t really know if this compilation actually helped any of the bands that appeared on it, but in my mind any exposure was good exposure so at the end of the day I thought it was a worthy project.
At this point, I was friends with the members of the local-Orlando rock/metal band Dummo (also now defunct), and their debut album was to be my next release. “Seasons in A Dry Age” was another successful album for AcidVictim Records because Dummo had a good following in Orlando, and even toured for a bit. Later in the year, Dummo decided to re-record some songs from their debut album with better production. The songs were released through AcidVictim Records as a split-album with Beatmaster Trash, who was a friend of the band. The split album was released in 2007.
This is when EVERYTHING FELL APART.
A couple of months after “Destroy the Known Universe” came out, Dummo’s bassist moved to California. About 3 months after that, the band broke up. I was now stuck with a stack of “Destroy the Known Universe” CD’s that I could no longer send anywhere. The friends I had in the band moved to Jacksonville and started doing hip-hop music. Since I was friends with these guys, none of this bothered me that much but that didn’t stop the chain of events that soon followed.
It was around this time that I was also working with Womb Raiders, a death metal band (obviously). The singer was full of boisterous claims like how he was booked to be on the Dr. Phil show with his girlfriend because he liked to hit her on the head with a hammer during sex, and that Relapse Records wanted to release an album of his but never did and blah blah blah. I never cared for the folklore this guy was creating, but I did like his demo and wanted to release it. P. Emerson Williams created some super-creepy artwork for the album. I was so proud of his work that I went ahead and paid him for it, in the anticipation of releasing this album asap. There was going to be plenty of room on the CD, so Bury the Pariah got on board with his "Hot Metal" album and this was eventually going to be the next split-album AcidVictim Records would release.
It never happened.
The Womb Raiders guy never came up with his part of the money. In the meantime, Bury the Pariah had switched the name (and style) of his band to Divisive Skin. So I was stuck with an album with a band that no longer existed and another one who stiffed me for $50. So I did what any rational, pissed off person would do and canceled the release. The whole affair really put a bad taste in my mouth.
The final nail in the coffin came when I planned on releasing a split album with Conceived By Fire and a couple other bands. CBF sent me money for the release, but I never received finalized tracks from the other bands involved. I waited for months, and got to the point where I simply no longer cared. I tried to find out the best place to send the money back to CBF, but no-one from the band even responded back.
After a while, I said fuck it and deleted everything associated with AcidVictim Records that I could find online. That was it. AcidVictim was dead.
A few months later, my partner-in-crime with Fuckpot sent me a new Fuckpot album that he had done, called “Infected Parasite.” I received this in early 2008. My Fuckpot friend didn’t know that I closed up shop, but he put the AcidVictim logo on the CD anyway, figuring I would release it. And he’s right, I would have had it been a better time.
At the end of the day, I burned out. I got sick of dealing with unprofessional bands that made my life a living hell by disappearing or never responding to emails. I didn’t care about the money…this was a hobby and I enjoyed what I was doing. But once the enjoyment stopped, so did the label.
I value all the help I got from people in getting these releases out there, but will I ever do something like this again? No.
It was a learning experience. It was fun. It was exhausting. Ultimately, it was doomed to fail and in retrospect I’m glad it did. AcidVictim's demise allowed me to re-focus my attention on my education, and gave me more money to spend on comics and vinyl records. And I've never been happier.